Candles made from untreated candle wax are often white or cream-colored. However, candles can be colored many other colors by adding chemical dyes to the wax before pouring the candle. Colored candles are made from three basic ingredients -- candle wax, candle wicks and candle dye. Scents can also be added during the manufacturing process to create scented, colored candles.
There are many different kinds of candle wax blends, but the most broadly used ones are paraffin, soy wax and beeswax. Candle wax is often blended with additives to change its melting point, stickiness or the hardness of the wax once cold. All candle waxes are solid at room temperature and not water-soluble. The natural color of the wax will vary depending on its origins. For example, beeswax is yellow and can have a green hint, soy wax has an off-white creamy color and paraffin wax is white before coloring it.
The wick of a candle is what enables it to burn, transferring molten wax from the candle to the flame and burning itself in the process. Candle wicks are made of a variety of fibers and can have a metallic core to add extra support and help it stand straight. The most popular candle wicks are made from cotton fibers, braided in a flat shape and then covered in wax to enable them to stand straight. A candle can have one or several wicks, depending on its size.
Colorants are added to the uncolored wax to give the candle color. Candle dyes are engineered to burn alongside the wax and not interfere with the natural burning properties of the candle. Industrial manufacturers often use dyes in either liquid or powder formulations, since they give more control over the final color of large batches of candles. However, artisan candle-makers often use colored blocks of highly colored wax that are easier to mix with the smaller amounts of candle wax used. Some candle wax blends require more dye than others to obtain the same color intensity. For this reason, the final color of a candle will depend on the amount of colorant and the blend of candle wax used.
There are many substances that can be added to the colored wax to give it scent. The most common substances used to create scented colored candles are either chemical scents or fragrance oils and even aromatherapy-grade oils added to create highly scented candles.